Calgary Anti-racists Challenge Neo-Nazi Threats

3-14-08, 9:34 am

Original source: People's Voice

An upsurge in neo-nazi activity in Alberta is meeting increased resistance from community groups. On March 21, members of the fascist Aryan Guard are organizing a white supremacist 'Pride' march from Millennium Park to Calgary City Hall, but members of Anti-Racist Action and community groups are mobilizing to challenge this provocation, set on the International Day for the Elimination of Racism.

This development comes after a frightening escalation of neo-nazi threats: two attempted Molotov cocktail firebombings of Calgary homes on the evening of February 12.

The second attack targeted the home of anti-racism activists Bonnie Collins and Jason Devine and their children. That firebomb burned a fence and patio furniture, but luckily there were no injuries in either case.

Collins and Devine are also well-known in the labour movement, and Bonnie was the Communist Party-Alberta candidate in Calgary East for the March 3 provincial election; Jason has run in federal elections for the Communist Party.

Bonnie Collins told the media that her work in standing up to local white supremacists was behind the attack. 'They're getting stronger, they're showing their flags,' she told the Calgary Sun, promising to help build the rally against the March 21 fascist provocation.

Speaking to People's Voice, Jason Devine talked about the increase in far right activity. A previous attempt to build the neo-nazi movement in Alberta sputtered out a few years ago, he says, when the so-called 'Western Canada For Us' was exposed by Anti-Racist Action and other groups. One leader of that white supremacist formation was fired from his job and later convicted for hate crimes.

The latest neo-nazi group to emerge is the Aryan Guard, which Devine says was initiated by five or six people who moved to Calgary after meeting vocal opposition from anti-racists in Toronto. This core group has linked up with some young people around the punk scene in Calgary, and with older Albertans long involved in the white nationalist movement.

Devine estimates that the Aryan Guard has about 40 members paying dues of $10 a month, and says that the group has been visible through postering hate material as well as a website. Then last fall, wearing ski masks and acting in a provocative manner, the group organized a protest at City Hall against allowing veiled Muslim women the right to vote. Anti-racist activists succeeded in chasing them away, but the incident showed a disturbing rise in hate-mongering. Following that event, Collins and Devine began receiving frequent phone call threats at home.

Most neo-nazi groups eventually split, says Devine, often over leadership differences: 'only one person can be the Fuhrer,' as he notes. But so far, the Aryan Guard has remained united.

Devine says that the violent neo-nazi nature of the Aryan Guard is perfectly apparent from its website. The group should be considered armed and dangerous, he points out, since the site shows them with bats, axes and shotguns, and even celebrating Hitler's birthday with a cake.

Yet even in the wake of the threats and firebombings, no charges have been laid against anyone, either for promoting hatred or for criminal acts. One Aryan Guard leader went so far as to state that 'it's a shame they had kids in the house, but I wouldn't cry if a couple of commies burned.' But the police seem unwilling to do anything, says Devine, preferring to ignore the attacks as a 'left vs. right' dispute.

This police inaction is part of a historic pattern. Over the past several decades, Communists in Canada have been the target of a wide range of attacks from far-right forces, but charges have never been laid. The list of incidents ranges from a 1970s firebomb at the home of Communist leader Liz Rowley, to the arson attack which burned down the Party's headquarters on Cecil Street in Toronto (the building was under reconstruction at the time), and the 1996 death threat at the Party's Vancouver office. In the latter case, a detailed letter promising to kill anyone entering the building was dropped through the mail slot on Hitler's birthday - April 20 - along with a symbolic twenty rifle bullets. The police response was limited to telling the Party to close its offices.

Following the Feb. 12 firebombing, the Central Executive Committee of the CPC issued a letter expressing 'full solidarity with the Devine/Collins family and with our comrades in Club Red in Calgary in the face of this violent assault. Such crude acts of intimidation will not silence our comrades in their important work to combat racism, fascism and imperialist war, to defend democratic rights and social justice, and to advance the struggle for socialism.'

The Communist Party of Canada is demanding a full and complete investigation into this incident, and that the perpetrators of the crime be brought to justice.

From People's Voice